People respond to a personal crisis with many feelings: anger, anxiety, outrage, self doubt. They may be hostile - lashing out at those closest to them. Or, they may become moody and depressed. Their tension may show up as restlessness, loss of appetite, loss of interest in sex, insomnia, and feelings of apathy and exhaustion. While some of these symptoms may be unpleasant, they are normal, predictable reactions of people experiencing a loss or critical change in their lives.
The first step to accepting feelings is to sort out and identify your feelings. Some feelings - often those that are painful - may become so buried you may not even be aware they exist. Recognizing these strong feelings, understanding why they may be present, and dealing with them in positive ways are important. Refusing to accept your feelings can cause physical and emotional damage.
One of the first feelings you will probably identify is anger. Anger is a powerful emotion that is often viewed negatively. Unchecked anger can be an emotional “time bomb” exploding when triggered by little things such as a glass of spilled milk or a spouse asking how the job hunt went today.
Looking beyond the anger, you may begin to uncover many other emotions hidden underneath. Anger may stem from feelings of failure, being unappreciated, exploited, manipulated, or humiliated. Anger may result in feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, frustration, anxiety, guilt, fear, or resentment. Once you begin to look at the variety of feelings behind the anger and to understand the hidden feelings, you can find ways to express your feelings in a positive manner.
Getting Rid of Your Anger
Damage to Self-Esteem
Feeling good about yourself, or having high selfesteem, is one of the most valuable assets you can have. Self-esteem develops as we grow from childhood into adulthood. The love and acceptance we get from parents, family members, and friends shapes our self-esteem. It is linked to how competent and successful we feel.
Having positive feelings about yourself is easier when things go well. When things take a turn for the worse, you often lose some of your self-confidence and begin to doubt yourself.
Whether it is your first experience with tough times, or you have been there before, you may feel a sense of loss that extends well beyond losing your income. Work contributes to your identity. It helps define who you are and makes you part of a larger community. Working helps you feel you belong and are important because you have something to contribute.
In many ways, losing a job or part of your income is like losing part of yourself. Your lifestyle suddenly changes. Schedules and routines that controlled a large part of your time are no longer there. You lose contact with your support system of co-workers and friends.
Many unemployed people report going through a process of grief and mourning in response to a job loss. This loss is characterized by stages of denial, anger, depression, and finally acceptance. With the help of those around them, most people eventually work out ways of dealing with their feelings. They make adjustments that help them recover from their loss and put it in perspective. Others may find coping more difficult and may require professional help.
Understanding Your Feelings
If you are not used to thinking about your feelings, identifying them during this stressful period may be difficult. Use Worksheet_-6_Thinking_About_Your_Feelings (pdf) to list feelings you may have experienced since your life situation changed. As you read over the list, think about which feelings you have experienced and when you experienced them.
Remember, it is okay to have these feelings. They are all natural reactions to a difficult situation. Recognizing their existence and accepting them is important to your physical and emotional health.
Steps to Accepting Your Feelings